Practicing self-care when it comes to Bipolar Disorder means that not only do I take my meds and see my doctor regularly, but also over the years I’ve learned a few “tricks” to help get me by. These are simple things that make my life, and the lives of the people in mine, much easier. My goal is to keep myself as stable as I can, with as few mood swings as possible.
On Wednesday I felt myself starting to go up. I ended up at the grocery store on a day when I know it’s not the perfect time for me to go. I try to plan these little excursions for when I know it’s not going to be very busy. I knew it was a bad idea to go, but I went with my husband who just happened to have the day off from work. He thought that if I went with him, it would make it easier for me. Bless his heart, but that’s just not how it works.
The grocery store wasn’t overly busy but I found myself there with no list and no idea what we were getting. This is pretty much how our conversation went down:
Me: Why are we here?
Scott: To get food.
Me: Yes, but what? Where is the list? I need to know what we’re having for dinner the next two days so I don’t have to come back here again. It’s like the seventh circle of Hell.
Scott: I’m going to go get cereal.
So off I went, shaking, sweating and cursing myself for allowing something as silly as grocery shopping to upset me so badly. When Scott and I finally met up again I mumbled something like:
I forgot to get bread
Scott: Well go grab some.
Me: I can’t, I’ve gone too far.
Scott: You’re kidding right?
Me: Nope. I’ve done the circuit. Get me out of here before I start to cry.
Scott: Go to the checkout, I’ll grab bread. What kind do you want?
Me: Can’t you just make a decision yourself?
We made it home and I apologized to Scott for my outburst, he took it in stride, like he always does. It didn’t lessen my guilt, or my agitation. The rest of the evening I was miserable with a short temper, easy agitation, and unfortunately my family were the targets of it all. I finally decided to try to isolate myself for a little while and see if that helped.
In the morning I got my kids ready for school, dropped them off and headed out to see my psychiatrist. I spent almost an hour in her waiting room, filling out the GAD questionnaire because we’ve been charting my anxiety. This little exercise actually brings on anxiety, and I think this particular tool is as waste of time and useless, but I’m not a doctor and there is obviously a reason behind it. My doctor emerges from her office and tells me, “I’m sorry Nicole, I double booked, would you mind coming back at around 5:00 p.m?” My back is instantly up. Who does she think she is and why did her receptionist not inform me of this at one point over the past 45 minutes while I’ve been sitting there? I hand her my GAD form and walk out.
I was furious. I call my husband and I’m yelling and swearing. Instantly I switch to, “She doesn’t want to be my doctor anymore and this is her way of telling me that.” He does what he always does, “Nicole, breathe. YOU KNOW that this is not the case. You’re angry, and you have a right to be, but you have an idea in your head, that is not true, and you’re running with it. Go home, put on some music, and distract yourself.” Oh, he’s a wise one, but his suggestions fall on deaf ears. She’s completely out to get me, I know this.
Thursday afternoon turns into Thursday night and I’m ramped up even more. Scott gets home from work and I’m talking a mile a minute, jumping from one topic to the next before ever completing a thought. He sits patiently, observing, and nodding his head at the appropriate times. (I must add that two years ago, my psychiatrist, Scott and myself sat down and came up with a plan of action for these specific times. We all agreed on what to do, and Scott was told to gently remind me of this plan before I got to non-compliant stage.) The problem here is that we never wrote this plan down, and I never signed it (not that it would be legal, but that it would show that I had previously agreed to the plan) and at this rate, I’m going up faster than we have ever seen. It’s tricky to talk to me when I get like this.
After Scott listens to me go on about my psychiatrist and how I’m sure she hates me, he leans over, holds my hand and says, “Baby, I think it’s time you take something to calm down.” I’ve weaned myself (safely under supervision) off of benzos 8 months ago) “I HAVE NOTHING TO TAKE” I scream at him. “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? I’M NOT THE PROBLEM Scott is calm and solid, as he always is. This scenario is unfortunately not new to him. He tries another approach, “Do you think maybe it’s time to go in to the hospital?” With that one statement I give in, “I’ll call the doctor now.”
It’s just before 5:00 p.m. when I make the call. I get the receptionist. “Can you please have Dr. G call me right away?” I have no idea what I’m going to say to her. I’m still mad and completely paranoid. I figure honesty is best. Within minutes she returns my call. I’m crying, and hysterical, “Scott wants me to admit. I think you don’t want to be my doctor anymore. I’m going up too fast. If everyone would just do what I tell them to do, everything would be ok.” I manage to blurt something similar to these statements and her first response is, “Nicole we are a team. It’s my fault that I double booked you and I’m sorry. Of course I’m your doctor. The hospital could be an option. It’s been a really long time since I’ve heard you like this.” “NO” I shout. She says “Ok then, I’m calling the pharmacy and I want you to start an anti-anxiety med tonight and continue it over the weekend. You are not to drive, Scott will pick it up, and I need you to stop doing everything you’ve committed to doing for the next few days. I will see you tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. in my office and we’ll go from there.”
Scott heads off to the pharmacy and about half an hour later I get a call from the pharmacy supervisor, “Are you ok, Nicole? Scott was in to pick up your meds and mentioned that you were having a rough time.” The pharmacy supervisor is aware of my previous wean from the anti-anxiety med. I was touched by his concern, but more so by that fact that I was so important it required a phone call from the pharmacy supervisor. Yeah, mania is funny that way.
When I met with my psychiatrist the next morning we instantly dropped a med and she talked about adding another. I told her I would consider it. I see her again at the end of this week but have her on speed dial if need be. My husband is supportive and knows what to do if I become non-compliant. The hospital is at the back of my mind, but it’s my last resort. I’ve done this before, I can do it again, with the support of my loved ones and some much needed rest.
Now I deal with the guilt of my behaviour and how poorly I treated my family. The snappy tone, and the way I spoke to Scott, my rock. He’s amazing, and puts up with far more than any many should have to. I know I hurt his feelings, but he never gives up on me. He always has my health and best interest at heart, and sometimes I fail to acknowledge that. But, when I’m well, I make sure to let him know how amazing he truly is. I love him, not because he’s always there, but because he is the most amazing person I have ever known. He is a loving father, a supportive husband and a good man. I am grateful for him, and wish that he wasn’t the focus of my outbursts. I need to work on that. He doesn’t deserve it, nobody does.